Trouble falling asleep can be a direct result of experiencing higher levels of stress or anxiety in your life. If you are looking for simple ways to help combat this problem, consider adding some yoga and/or mindful meditation to your bedtime routine. It can be as easy as taking five to ten minutes of your time and these tips provide examples you can even try in the comfort of your own bed. Read on to find out more!
When people experience higher levels of stress and anxiety or struggle with depression, difficulty falling asleep can sometimes be a side effect. While our bodies may feel tired, our minds are still racing when we lay in bed to go to sleep.
You can certainly create for yourself the perfect physical sleeping environment, but try as you may, the most comfortable mattress and pillow in the world may not help ease that busy mind into a restful slumber.
In my years of coping with depression, I have found the best way to get myself into a solid sleep is to practice some simple mindfulness and yoga exercises. I have found them to be effective in not only getting my body to completely relax but also to clear my mind of any stressful thoughts that might otherwise keep me awake.
Here are three ways you can use mindful meditation and yoga to help you fall asleep more easily:
- Doing some simple yoga poses before going to bed can help prepare your body for sleep. Try poses such as cat/cow, which can relieve any spinal tension, lunge or a seated twist, which can offer some muscle stretches, or even a few minutes of dropping your ear towards your shoulder on either side to give yourself a nice neck stretch. These are all good options to help relieve tightness in your muscles and will help your body feel more relaxed.
- Unwind and unplug. Making some time before bed away from a TV or tablet screen to do some simple meditations or mindfulness practice can help quiet down the mind and get yourself mentally ready for sleep. If you’re one of those people who often find their brain racing with thoughts at bedtime, a short mindful practice right before going to bed could be very beneficial. Try this exercise: take a few minutes to write out in a notebook or journal any negative or stressful thoughts that could prevent you from falling asleep. Remind yourself that once you close that book those thoughts are no longer with you as you lay down to sleep. Once you get yourself comfortable in bed pick one positive thing to focus on, for example, “I am thankful for…” or “…makes me happy.” You fill in the blank. It can be anything you want and don’t worry if you think it’s silly. So if at that moment you pick “I am thankful for my pillow,” or “Ice cream makes me happy,” that’s okay. Either way, use this positive phrase as your mantra to get to sleep. Don’t focus on anything but that one simple sentence and just repeat it in your mind until you drift off.
- Just breathe. Breathing exercises have been my most useful way of settling down to sleep. I find that by simply focusing on my breath I feel the stress melt away. This does take some practice though, as when I first started doing this I found my mind would continue to be busy with stressful thoughts. These are two simple breathing exercises that I have found very helpful in getting my body and mind to relax. The first is practicing Dirga Pranayama or three-part breath. This is the practice of mindful breathing into the belly, ribcage and heart-space. The second one is what I like to call inhale calmness and exhale stress. I simply lay comfortably and on every inhale I think of a positive word, and on every exhale I let out any negative words that are occupying space in my brain. Hence, inhale calmness, exhale stress. Or, inhale peace and exhale worry. Inhale love and exhale sadness, inhale joy, exhale anger…and so on. With every exhale I feel more and more relaxed, leaving me both mentally and physically ready to fall asleep quickly.
Want a little more inspiration and ideas of how yoga and mindfulness can help you sleep? Check out these links for some more useful tips.